Belfast Telegraph

Don't write off Carrick Rangers survival bid, warns Gary Haveron

By Stuart McKinley

Gary Haveron is well aware that many pre-season predictions will have his team going straight back down to the Championship at the end of the campaign - but he doesn't care.

Instead the Carrick Rangers boss is happy to be going into the top flight with the level of expectation from outside the club as low as it possibly can be.

Inside the ranks, however, Haveron is confident that Carrick aren't coming into the Premiership for a quick visit before heading back to the second tier.

"It is natural that we are tipped to go down, but I feel that we are good enough to take on this challenge," said Haveron ahead of today's opening-day trip to Dungannon Swifts.

"If we work as hard and as smartly as we did last season then we will have a fighting chance.

"I see it as a positive that we're being written off. Last year there was expectation on us to win games, this season we can play without that expectancy.

"We understand what we want to achieve and we will focus on looking after ourselves."

The big thing working in Carrick's favour - certainly in comparison to their last season in the Premiership - is that they will be playing on their own home ground at Taylors Avenue.

Last time around, in 2011-12, Rangers were forced to groundshare with Crusaders and subsequently won only two 'home' games throughout the campaign.

"It was hugely important for us to get the ground up to standard for us to play at home in the Premiership," said Haveron.

"Last season we won 28 games at home and drew one - and we should have won that one too.

"To do that in any league is impressive and we were so close to making it a 100 per cent record.

"When Carrick were last in the Premiership any home advantage there might have been was nullified by having to play at Seaview.

"The team never trained on the artificial surface, so it was like every home game was being played at a neutral venue.

"It made things very difficult and I felt for Stevie Small and the players because they were fighting with one hand tied behind their back right from the start."

In his search for Premiership experience, three of Haveron's summer signings have arrived at Taylors Avenue from Coleraine. Joe McNeill will bolster the midfield and the boss expects goals from Gary Browne and Mark Miskimmin.

"Players can re-invent themselves when they arrive somewhere new with no baggage and they can be who they want to be," said Haveron.

"Mark Miskimmin and Gary Browne have both played on both sides of the Big Two. You don't do that if you don't have a certain quality. I've no doubts about them at all."

e STUART Addis has re-joined Dungannon Swifts 10 years after he left the club. He will be back-up to Andy Coleman and will go straight into the squad for today's meeting with Carrick Rangers.

e Cliftonville have signed full-back Fra Brennan from Dungannon Swifts.

e GLENAVON have snapped-up Josh Lynch, who has returned home from Torquay United.

carrick rangers

Manager: Gary Haveron

Captain: Aaron Harmon

Key Man: Barry Johnston

Big arrival: Barry Johnston

Big loss: Ciaran Donaghy

Last season: Promoted as winners of Championship and Irish Cup quarter-finals

Ins: Gary Browne (Coleraine), Andrew Doyle (Ballyclare Comrades), Barry Johnston (Cliftonville), Chris Keenan, Joe McNeill (Coleraine), Mark Miskimmin (Coleraine), Mark Surgenor (Ballymena United).

Outs: Graeme Arthur, Ciaran Donaghy, Chris Kerr, Jody Lynch (Donegal Celtic), Aidan Watson (Bangor)

Verdict: Likely to find themselves in the bottom two

Belfast Telegraph


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